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Date [ 2015-10-21, 10:35 ]
After a slow start, inroads are being made in this very competitive field

(Singapore=Koreanpress) Benjamin Kim = In August this year, lovers of things Korean had a special glow all over them. This was because the premium Korean skin care brand, The History of Whoo opened its first branch in Tangs on Orchard Road,


The company was playing on its star item – Bi Chup J Saeng Essence. This anti-aging serum has in its varied list of ingredients such things as wild thyme, deer antlers and angelica root. Buyers were made to feel like an Empress, the very meaning of the company name – Whoo.
Korean cosmetic companies upon entering Singapore emphasized on alabaster smooth porcelain skin. The Oriental preferred mode of beauty, Once the first beauty care product was bought, subtle hints were made that nighttime regiments should begin, with what else but Korean labels. It may sound weird but these products carried in them such ingredients as snail and snake venom, donkey’s milk and toxins from bee stings. Slick presentations gave these an exotic touch.
With the passing of time, Korean cosmetics have its ardent followers, just like K-pop. Sometimes there are crossovers, fans following what their idols are using and those in the pop industry endorsing Korean beauty products.
One item that has come out of this one sided love affair is Cushion Compacts. A cushion, usually a small piece that can be held in the hand or placed in a handbag and whipped out when necessary, The cushion is soaked in liquid foundation and then gently rubbed on to the cheeks. Once it has dried off, the foundation can be applied again so that a user has that soft, dewy look of Korean celebrities all day long.
Another staple is that eve r popular BB cream. It is believed this tinted moisturizer foundation is a hybrid sunblock and has become a staple of girls who use Korean beauty products. They all want to get the dewy-skinned sheen that K-Pop stars and K-Drama actresses portray. 
Cosmetic companies play on this sentiment. Innisfree has actor Lee Min Ho and singer/actress Im Yoona endorsing its products while actress Song Hye Kwo is the ambassadors for Laneige. History of Whoo has taken on the face of Lee Young Ae.


With so much support it is no wonder that Korean beauty outlets are springing up in Singapore. In June, Etude House launched its 17th outlet at VivoCity. However in October last year, the house opened its flagship at Wisma Atria. At 2,300 sq. ft. it had the distinction of being the largest in the world.
What has evolved in Singapore is a reflection of the Western and European beauty scene. A few big names and dozens of smaller ones. Getting back to History of Whoo, it is owned by South Korea’s electronic giant – LG,  which also controls THEFACESHOP, Belif and VDL. THEFACESHOP has 22 outlets in Singapore and VDL  has just opened its fifth store at ION Orchard Linkway.   
But that is not all, Korea’s largest cosmetic manufacturer, AmorePacific has a stable of 26 labels. Among these, Sulwhasoo, Erude House and Innisfree have all made deep inroads into Singapore.
A further breakdown reveals that it is Laneige which is the most popular with 17 stores and counters all over the island. Sulwhasoo had just four counters in some department stores. Now it has moved into the big time with its stand-alone store in Southeast Asia at Capital Piazza in July 2015. Not to be left behind is Innsfree which opened its sixth and largest store, also in July. 
A quick look at statistics show Korean beauty products have increased in such a short time. They have tripled from just 15 in 2010 to more than 50 now. That is a span of just five years.
Part of the rise can be attributed to multi-labeled stores. A recent example is the duty free chain from South Korea – the Shilla Duty Free. It opened last October at Changi Airport. Thanks  to its introduction of brands such as RF NK, Ryo and Giverny, who all gained their own followers. In celebration of its first anniversary it has opened the Shilla beauty Loft with its luxury spa concept in a duty free store. One of its kind, offering beauty services from prestige brands such as Chanel, Dior, La Prairie and SK-II.” Together with our multi-brand beauty store on the first level, we create the best of both worlds in shopping as we strategically align our products and services to different profiles of international travelllers,” said Mr. Jason Cha, Senior Executive Vice-President, The Head of The Shilla Duty Free. 
Another is multiband beauty chain Sasa, that came into Singapore with its Selectiv concept store. This was at Ion Orchard Linkway in April with 11 Korean brands, chief being Cliv, Soo Beaute and 3 Concept Eyes.


Looking beautiful is close to addiction. Once hooked you cannot let go. So the amount that Singaporeans spend on beauty products has grown, albeit at a modest pace. 
Market research from Euromonitor International stated that Singaporeans  paid a total of S$694.5 million for general skincare and colour cosmetics. This was a rise of 6.3 per cent from 2013. But how much of this was for Korean products could not be ascertained as no such trade figures are kept. But the industry in general accepts that Korean products do play a part in the overall growth of the local beauty scene. 
One Singapore housewife is happy that Korean brands come out with a new collection of cosmetics almost every month. By contrast, she feels international brands are slow on the take regarding new products.
She confessed, “I just cannot resist when well packages and limited editions from bands such as Etrude House and Hera come out. I have to have them. Their low prices too are another draw. Last month it was so satisfying to pay S$50 for three lipsticks from Etude House whereas an equivalent price would have got me just one from a Western brand, ”
Singaporeans in general agree that Korean beauty products are well priced. The fact that many of them come in mini-sized bottles persuades them to experiment with the brands. The overriding factor is that Korean beauty products are made with Asian skins in mind. They concentrate on hydration, skin whitening and elasticity. A senior manager at Tangs said, ”Their make-up carries a lighter texture and is thus to better match Asian skins.”

There is no doubt that Korean beauty products have made deep inroads into Singapore. They have rapidly developed their own followers. Stars from the Korean entertainment sector have drawn attention to the Korean Look. Thus Korean beauty products are being imported into Singapore by local companies and Korean companies themselves. Perhaps it will now be time to set up manufacturing bases in Singapore and bring better and direct benefits to Singaporeans.

/ abc@koreanpress.net

[본 기사는 한국언론진흥재단이 후원합니다.]

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